Three Things We Can Learn from Meghan and Harry

The time leading up to your wedding day should be the happiest time of your life. The stress of planning, however, can easily put a damper on the romance of your big day. Don’t let it get to the point where you spend more time with your to-do list than your fiancé — take a page out of the newly-official Royal Couple’s book in order to enjoy every moment leading up to your day.

Okay, so you may not *officially* be becoming a princess, but you should totally still feel like one. And when was the last time the Duchess of Cambridge was stressed out? I mean, they all get a butler, right?

Photo By Paul Grover/The Telegraph

  1. Don’t Worry about Anyone Else

There won’t be any topping of William and Kate’s 2011 nuptials, nor should there be. Harry and Meghan’s wedding will be unique to their relationship, just as you and your future hubby’s own wedding should be. Even with the massive pressure Harry and Meghan will be facing to keep all of the Royal Family traditions, there’s no doubt there will still be a few special, personal touches added to the day – possibly as quirky as a banana flavored wedding cake, Prince Harry’s personal favorite flavor! And don’t feel pressured to match the extravagance or size of a someone else’s wedding, either. Try to keep it intimate – not only will a smaller guest list save you money, but you also won’t feel like you only got to spend a split second of your reception with each of your 350 guests.

wedding planning tips

  1. Sacrifices Will Be Inevitable

The soon-to-be princess can also teach us to never lose sight of the bigger picture. Yes, your wedding day will be the best day of your lives, but you’re also beginning a lifelong commitment to marriage. By accepting Harry’s proposal, not only has Meghan decided to give up her career, but she’s also agreed to live a life forever in the public eye. Now, some might say it’s a no-brainer to trade off some privacy in order to marry into the Royal Family. But being in the constant public eye is NOT easy, and Meghan’s status is going to be elevated beyond just that of a celebrity. Harry’s public message from 2016 pleading with the media to give them space goes to show exactly the type of challenges the soon-to-be newlyweds will continue to face for the rest of their lives. What’s this mean for you? Yes, centerpieces are important. But not as important as committing to move for the other when that job promotion takes you to the opposite coast, or realizing that yeahhh, he really is allergic to dogs and your future pet scene may involve aquariums instead.

meghan marble prince harry

Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage

  1. Don’t Let Family Drama Stress You Out

If anyone tells you they don’t have family drama, they are lying (even if they are royalty!). Samantha Markle has been very vocal about her newly engaged half-sister’s relationship with their family, and certainly hasn’t sugarcoated it. Even more, William and Kate’s newest addition could easily make its first public appearance on May 19th and steal quite a bit of attention from the bride and groom – sometimes it just happens that way. And just like any wedding, there will also be much scrutiny (and probably even some bickering) in regard to the guest list and seating arrangements. So, keep in mind that even with a seemingly unlimited budget and resources like Meghan and Harry have, there’s still no avoiding family stress and drama for your big day.

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Wedding Planning: Let’s Get Down to Business

Way down the road into your happily ever after, you and your spouse will both look back at your wedding and reminisce – and not just about the big day, but also about all of the big moments leading up to it. So why not get this year started off with a bang of productivity in order to reduce last minute stress and allow yourself to enjoy every second?

Nail Down the Weekend-Of Logistics

You’ve already made major headway into planning – dress? Check. Honeymoon? Booked. Obviously, you tackled the fun stuff first. But now is the time to discuss the general flow of the day with your hubby-to-be. For example, deciding whether or not you’d like to do a first look or not may seriously impact the day’s timeline, and could mean you need fewer (or more!) hours for the limo rental and photographer. Will you have a lot of out of town guests? If so, keep in mind that for some venues, securing a block of hotel rooms nearby can be surprisingly difficult, so make sure to get on top of that pronto.

Start a Journal (if you haven’t already!)

With every decision comes ten more nitty-gritty details too. Feel like you’re forgetting everything? Find a small journal or notepad you can carry around in your purse for the next few months. That way, when you’re out for drinks with a girlfriend and the perfect phrase for your bachelorette t-shirts strikes, you can jot it down. You can also keep important dates and vendor phone numbers all in one place without having to dig four months back into your email’s inbox. Check out this Kate Spade bride2be notebook – it’s absolutely adorable, and you won’t believe how cheap it is!

Figure Out Your Money Sitch Now

Do chardonnay and a calculator go together? They do now. Grab both, and set aside a few hours to really wrap your head around all of your wedding expenses. Getting on top of your finances early is so important. For example, knowing that you’re going to have to pay both the photographer’s deposit AND the balance of your dress in the same week could save you lots of stress when it comes down to crunch time. This Wedding Cost Estimator can be a really helpful tool – and eye-opening if you’re still in the early stages of planning.

Of course, weddings are insanely expensive (especially if you and the fiancé are paying for most of it yourselves), but make sure you can stomach the amount you’re charging on your credit card. Otherwise, maybe consider rolling back a few add-ons. Meaning, do you really need the “ultra-deluxe lighting package” from the DJ when your venue is already stunning on its own? Also, vendors that let you order samples before shelling out any major cash are a huge plus. You can order a variety of free samples of Save the Dates and Invitations from Exclusively Weddings here.

Checklists, Calendars and More Checklists

Now, we don’t want to steal the spotlight from your big day, but chances are that you probably have *at least* one or two other weddings this year to attend besides your own. That’s a few weekends that you can kiss goodbye to using for planning your own wedding, especially if you’re involved in throwing the bridal shower or attending the bachelorette too. Did your wedding just get once month closer in terms of planning? Don’t freak out! You’re going to accomplish SO much during the next few weeks, remember?

Our tips:

  • As long as you set mini-milestones for each month, you’ll totally be fine and motivated to keep making progress
  • Post a calendar just for wedding planning on your fridge as a visual reminder you’ll see every day in order to stay on top or your tasks
  • Don’t leave anything you can do ahead of time for the 30 days leading up to your wedding. Stuffing welcome bags for hotel guests? Addressing envelopes for invitations? Who cares if the wedding is still eight months away, get that stuff done now! That way, when your dress finally comes in and you need (surprise!) three extra fittings and more alterations than you expected (hey, just being realistic here), you’ll be glad to have all of the easy minutiae done with way ahead of time

Still feeling overwhelmed? Get our free wedding countdown planner checklist here to help keep you on track.

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Ringing in 2018…with Wedding Bells

The good news: The stress of the holidays is over – phew, time to relax. The bad news The amazing news In other news…you’re getting married this year! And if you’re like most brides, January brings a sudden onset of panic that you’ve fallen way behind in planning and/or are wondering where to start.

That’s where we come in. First, don’t fret – even if you’re having a spring wedding, there’s still plenty of time to get everything done. Even more important, there’s nothing more powerful than a productive, can-do mindset. Try these tips to tackle January and get the best year of your life started off on the right foot!

Focus on Yourself

This year is going to inevitably be a roller coaster of stress and excitement – so why not get your mental health in as best shape as possible to start? Even taking fifteen minutes to pamper yourself every night can go a long way in boosting your mood, reducing stress, and feeling energized. After a busy day of planning, unwind by lighting some candles, putting on some cozy socks and throwing on a facemask. Personally, we can’t get enough of this pore clearing charcoal mask by Origins. Don’t forget, every bride feels overwhelmed at some point during the wedding planning process. So, when you feel like running for the hills, try running a hot bath instead.

Detox a Little Bit of Everything

There’s nothing less productive than setting unrealistic resolutions you’ll break six days in. Instead, try slowly cutting back on things out that will in turn make you feel refreshed, healthy, and happy in the long run. That extra glass of wine after dinner? Opt for a large glass of water before bed instead. Headed to brunch with your MOH? Fill up on some fruit before jumping into the breakfast casserole. Many Pure Barre and Orangetheory locations are running awesome deals for new members for the New Year. And we don’t just mean cutting out alcohol and calories – try to detox the negativity in your life, too. That girl from high school that you loathe who is (of course) getting married two weeks before you? Unfollow!

Cross that One Thing You’re Dreading Off Your List

January is the perfect time to check that pesky task you’ve been avoiding off your to-do list. The cold weather makes for less temptation for plans (hibernation, anyone?), so you may find a few free weekends on your hands. Even if your big day is still nine or ten months away, take advantage and get those time-consuming DIY crafts started, or get dress shopping with your impossible-to-please mother-in-law checked off your list now. Still haven’t ordered your invitations? Check out our elegant Pearl Pleasure embossed invites and check that off your list too!

Make Time for Date Night with the Fiancé

Remember, as stressful and expensive as planning a wedding can be, you should still enjoy the process. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a weekend off from planning completely and grab dinner and drinks at your favorite local spot with the fiancé! This is the only (and brief) time in your lives that you’ll be engaged, so make sure to celebrate the anticipation of the big day that’s just around the corner.

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30 Ways to Have Your Dream Wedding for Less, Part 9

Our series, 30 Ways to Have Your Dream Wedding for Less, is about to be completed soon, but we still have some great money-saving ideas to share! This week’s tips include using candles to decorate your reception site, choosing an easy-to-match wedding color, and options to consider when shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses.

Tip 26. Use Candles to Decorate Your Reception Site. When you are planning your wedding budget, you are likely to find that your reception expenses are about 50 percent of your entire wedding budget. So, there are a lot of money-saving opportunities to consider for saving on this part of your wedding day. One way to save is to use candles instead of floral arrangements on your reception dinner tables. Read More . . .

30 Ways to Have Your Dream Wedding for Less, Part 8

In this week’s post in our series, 30 Ways to Have Your Dream Wedding for Less, Part 8, I will share three more money-saving tips: Choose a Location That is Free, Have a Signature Cocktail Instead of an Open Bar, and Get Wedding Help From Your Close Friends.

Backyard weddingThe location for your wedding and reception can end up being a large part of your wedding budget. For example, if you have your reception in a ballroom or hall you will likely be obligated to buy their “package” that would include food, beverages, etc.

You can save quite a bit of money if you have your reception at a location that is free, so that you can choose your own vendors. Read More . . .

30 Ways to Have Your Dream Wedding for Less, Part 6

We’re half way through our series, 30 Ways to Have Your Dream Wedding for Less, and I still have lots more great tips to share with you. This week I’ll cover choosing an “off season” wedding date, having your wedding during the Christmas season and using student musicians play at your ceremony instead of professionals.

January-MarchTip 16.  Instead of getting married during the typical wedding months, choose an “off season” date.  You may recall that Tip 15 covered having your wedding on a weekday or Sunday instead of Saturday. Tip 16 goes a little further to suggest that you consider choosing a date that is during the “off season” of November 1 through March 31.

The cost savings during this period is due to Read more . . .

A Wedding Dream Comes True

AliSix weeks before her wedding, bride-to-be Ali was asked by HuffPost Weddings to write an article for them on the subject of planning her wedding. Ali, the product manager at Exclusively Weddings, wrote in her article that what she really wanted her wedding to be almost got side tracked. She took a step back to re-evaluate and re-group, and in the end, she got the exact wedding she had been dreaming of.

Ali was married to Hill on April 28. In looking at her wedding photos recently, I saw a radiant bride who had a big, natural smile in almost every single picture. This was a bride who was relaxed and who obviously enjoyed every minute of her big day. The statement from her HuffPost story, “I just want to marry the man I love in front of the family and friends that I adore” is exactly what happened!

Her HuffPost article is shared below, along with photos.

Reprinted from HuffPost Weddings  –  May 1, 2012: The Pressure To Have A ‘Unique’ Wedding – By Ali Besaw — Some may say I am your typical bride-to-be. I’m a young professional juggling a multitude of things every day. Now one of those items being juggled is finalizing the details of my wedding because I’m getting married in six weeks. The good news — all the major things are done and checked off of my list. I’ve booked my ceremony and reception location, hired a DJ and finalized the menu. But now is the time when those little details have to be addressed which include the question, how can my wedding be ‘”different” or unique? The details I’m obsessing over include: What am I going to decorate my tables with? What about wedding favors? How do I want the bridal party introduced? These small details are taking over my mind. Crazy? Not yet.

Now, some of my friends say I have a slight advantage because I happen to be a product manager for a great little wedding supplies company — Exclusively Weddings. So, I know stuff. I have contacts. But, that certainly does not alleviate the pressure I feel to be unique.

So I search the internet for ideas. Like every other twenty-something year old female, I check out Pinterest — but I do it relentlessly. And I obviously look to my friends and family for help. We can all find great ideas like those crafty DIY projects that could really make your wedding unique. There’s just one major problem: Who truly has the time to do that? Plus, I live and work in North Carolina while my wedding is taking place in Georgia!

Although my fiancé is quite special, he isn’t much help besides answering, “Whatever you want,” in response to my need for his opinion. And, though I’d like to pretend they don’t, my bridesmaids do have lives of their own. In my wedding-consumed mind they can easily dedicate their evenings to hunting down old vintage books that I can set an antique clock on for my center pieces, but in reality, they can’t.

So I have to ask myself, how important are these “unique” touches? Sure, if I had all the time in the world and a never-ending budget, I could pull off a David Tutera-esque wedding. But I don’t. And do the guests really care if I provide them with handmade favors that took hours to assemble? Aren’t they there to witness the “soul’s recognition of its counterpoint in another,” as John Ryan would say? Aren’t they there for the free food and beverage, not to mention witnessing some interesting events such as the guaranteed long-distance relative that has too much to drink? I think emphatically, yes. I just want to marry the man I love in front of the family and friends that I adore.

With all that said. I love the idea of creating something new and unique. But it’s not the handmade center pieces and wedding favors at the reception that will make it so. I know my wedding and reception will be unique because it will be a reflection of me and my fiancé, as well as our family and friends. So, I’m looking forward to providing my guests with yummy brownie pops and having lovely floral center pieces in crystal vases. I’ll be sure to send pictures of how “unique” everything was!

Ali and Hill

Ali and Hill’s wedding was photographed by Kelly Rae Stewart Photography and all photos shown here are from her portfolio. Used with permission. Additional wedding photos can be seen on the photographer’s blog.